The FBI says it took down “a plot to violently overthrow the Michigan state government and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” the Detroit News reported on Thursday.
Citing a federal affidavit, the newspaper says the alleged conspiracy involved members of a Michigan militia. Six men were arrested Wednesday in a raid on a home in Hartland Township, 50 miles from Detroit. There could be more arrests.
The conspirators “twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer’s vacation home and discussed kidnaping her to a remote location in Wisconsin to stand ‘trial’ for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election,” the News says.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit.
The plotters “seemed to be motivated by their belief that state governments, including Michigan’s, were violating the Constitution,” according to the affidavit.
Whitmer became a target of coronavirus skeptics after enacting strict mitigation measures that were overturned by a judge last week.
One of six men named in the affidavit, Adam Fox, “allegedly reached out to a Michigan based militia group that was already being monitored by the FBI and local authorities,” reports the Daily Beast.
Fox and another alleged plotter, Barry Croft, met with 13 others in Ohio to discuss their scheme: this group “bounced around several different ways to achieve their goals—some peaceful, others violent,” the Beast says.
“One of those involved complained … that Whitmer was controlling the opening of gyms – an apparent reference to coronavirus shut-down restrictions,” says the Washington Post.
“But unbeknown to them, the FBI had confidential informants recording many of their discussions,” the Post says.
The alleged plot “came to the attention of law enforcement when a member of the group became concerned that they planned to ‘target and kill police officers’ and reached out to federal authorities,” the Beast says.
That person then agreed to become an informant, telling federal agents that militia groups periodically met at a remote site in Michigan for firearms and explosives training and tactical drills, the Beast says.
“President Trump has been publicly critical of Michigan’s leaders over the state-imposed measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, tweeting in April, ‘LIBERATE MICHIGAN,’” the Post says.
Whitmer spoke Thursday afternoon saying:
“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this.”